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Rick Ankiel was officially added to the 40-man roster today.
"Barring something out of the ordinary, I think you're looking at the 25-man somewhere in this camp," general manager Mike Rizzo said this afternoon.
There are 34 players remaining in big-league camp, though five of those are expected to open the season on the disabled list: Michael Morse, Drew Storen and Chien-Ming Wang on the 15-day DL and Chris Marrero and Cole Kimball on the 60-day DL.
So that leaves only 29 healthy players for Rizzo and manager Davey Johnson to consider when assembling their Opening Day roster. Outfielder Xavier Nady figures to beat out catcher Carlos Maldonado and first baseman Chad Tracy for the final spot on the bench, and Ryan Mattheus is favored over Craig Stammen and Chad Durbin to win the last available bullpen job.
Though it came as no surprise, the Nationals purchased Rick Ankiel's contract today, officially adding the veteran to their 40-man roster. Ankiel is expected to be the club's Opening Day center fielder, provided the quad strain that has hampered him for a couple of weeks heals in time.
Ankiel is out of the lineup tonight, and Johnson suggested the outfielder may miss tomorrow's game as well. "I'm not going to rush that," the manager said, adding he is "a little concerned" about the possibility Ankiel may not be ready for the opener.
Roger Bernadina would be in center field in Ankiel's place tonight, but he's flying home from his father's funeral in Curacao and won't return to the club until tomorrow. That leaves Jayson Werth, Johnson's self-described "third option," in center field tonight against the Marlins, surrounded by veterans Mark DeRosa (left field) and Nady (right field).
Though he was signed less than two weeks ago and only joined big-league camp two days ago, Nady now looks all but certain to head north with the Nationals.
"He's one of the guys we're looking at, and it's getting late in camp," Rizzo. "He's in the competition, and he's playing extremely well in the very difficult, short spring training that he's had. But we knew when he came in here, he was in terrific shape."
One more tea leaf to suggest Nady will make the roster: After wearing his minor-league uniform No. 22 the last two days, he's formally switched to No. 21. Storen already owns No. 22.